Review: The Co Founder is Mindful and Melancholy on ‘phd’

phd - The Co Founder

The constant flux of fascination in the music world is inevitable and constant. But the fixation on hair bands in the ’80s, rap in the ’90s, and pop in the 2000s has never stopped countless friends from coming together to make tried and true rock music–and thank goodness. The Co Founder is one such band focused on its own passions, hailing from the Bellingham, Washington, just north of Seattle. Made up of close friends Hayden Eller, Jake Barrow, and Luke Hogfoss, the trio found each other thanks to a variety of respective projects in the local music scene (see: The City Hall, Vervex and The Palisades). With deep, local roots and a heavily steeped mutual appreciation for making music, their latest release, a 7” two-song single titled phd (via LifeVest Records, digital 2/9, vinyl 3/9), is nothing short of indie rock magic sure to hit you in the heart.

Listen: “phd” – The Co Founder

With hazy, contemplative soundscapes that set the scene for Eller’s emotional and dedicated vocal work, phd marks a new era for The Co Founder while staying true to its 2015 roots. Originally a solo, acoustic project for Eller, the band is now full-fledged and thriving, soon to embark on their third and most widespread tour yet.

phd - The Co Founder (Mimi Jaffe)

phd – The Co Founder (Mimi Jaffe)

The first track on the record, “Obsessed,” features quick-paced drum rolls and recurrent, high-energy guitar riffs to create a medley of indie rock and DIY pop that feels truly honest. Marry the sound with The Co Founder’s active lyricism and you can feel the heart they’ve put into their latest work.

I see the tension on your face 
Take the most from all of those who did you wrong 
Cause I’m not here and you’re still gone 
We’ve been running for so long 
Just you and I, and all the sins we took on 

While “Obsessed” is thoughtful, exhilarating and attractive, to be sure, “Balance” is brutally honest, laying bare our innermost thoughts and affects. It showcases the niche that The Co Founder has so carefully and expertly crafted for themselves – gracefully clever lyricism with a bite of truth wrapped in a down-to-earth, lo-fi approach – and poises them perfectly as a hometown hero band with a potential for much wider appeal.

The Co Founder © Tommy Calderon

The Co Founder © Tommy Calderon

Opening with slow and pensive guitar, Eller’s voice is able to really shine over the quiet melody. Holding true to most of The Co Founder’s work, “Balance” is a brooding ballad that evolves into something a bit more emotionally charged, in terms of delivery, after the bridge. Hogfoss and Barrow jump in on vocals, creating additional layers alongside a thicker instrumental. The shift shows an ability to create range and complexity within a confined four and a half minutes, and offers an unexpected depth on the track.

Call a stranger just to tell them, that your pride is gone
Oh love, must have left it in my other coat
Send my love from a hotel, no matter what’s wrong
Hope this old man can make it, cause my years, they’re gone
The Co Founder © Tommy Calderon

The Co Founder © Tommy Calderon

Some may think The Co Founder’s lyrics lack clarity and find that frustrating, but it’s hard to fault a band that writes from the heart, especially when they’re finding their feet and their place. A relatively new band, The Co Founder and its members show immeasurable maturity and care on phd, most glaringly with their attention to complex themes in their lyrics. Through their mindful melodies, focused delivery and charming, heartfelt lyricism, they’ve made their somewhat somber brand of indie rock accessible, lovable, and even fun. A delicate and dedicated piece of work, phd has us looking forward to The Co Founder’s inevitable next move.

Catch The Co Founder on tour this spring with Candysound and brand new addition, Special Explosion! See tour dates below.

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cover © Mimi Jaffe

The Co Founder 2017 tour poster

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Hails from the Pacific Northwest but currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Serves beer and wine to pay some billz but writes about music to satisfy the soul. Always on the hunt for new music, particularly cutting edge electronic tunes or anything out of the ordinary. Firmly believes cats make the best pets, and not sorry about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯